Nobel Prize 2011- Dan Shechtman

By: Ashlyn and Shreya

Who Won?

Dan Shechtman

  • Born: 24 January 1941
  • Born in Tel Aviv, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
  • Education/ Affiliation at the time of the award: Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
  • Scientific field of study: physical chemistry, structural chemistry

Interesting facts:

  • Shechtman has a favorite picture of a line of a dozen German Shepherds. In front of them, with self-assured insouciance, walks a serene cat. (He relates to the cat)
  • His first discovery in the field of quasiperiodic crystals made him very unpopular

What Did He Do?

  • Experiment

    • Looked at electrons in a mixture of aluminum and manganese under an electron microscope

    • Saw concentric circles with 10 dots (atoms) each

    • It was thought that 4-fold (concentric circles with 4 atoms in each) was the highest symmetry you could have because 5-fold (concentric circles with 5 atoms in each) symmetry and above don’t repeat the pattern when you turn it around a certain number of degrees so scientists thought that it wasn’t possible because asymmetric

    • At that time, a crystal was defined as a substance in which the constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are packed in a regularly ordered, repeating three-dimensional pattern”

    • However, he could rotate his pattern 36 degrees and get the same pattern

  • Results

    • He discovered that 10-fold symmetry was possible which opened up the doors for discoveries of other-fold symmetry such as 8-fold symmetry and 20-fold symmetry

    • Discovered quasicrystals- a form of solid matter whose atoms are arranged like those of a crystal but assume patterns that do not exactly repeat themselves.

    • Lead to the changing of the definition of a crystal to any solid having an essentially discrete diffraction diagram

Some Pictures!

Why Did He Win?

  • He proved all previous beliefs about quasicrystals wrong

  • Shechtman showed evidence of different symmetry that was previously thought of as impossible

  • Quasicrystals are used in LEDs and non-stick material such as non-stick pans

  • The automotive industry is looking at how quasicrystals can be used to recycle wasted heat in cars because quasicrystals are good at converting heat into electricity

Quasicrystals ; Prof. Daniel Shechtman ; Nobel Prize in Chemistry